Trojans respond to Hartman's challenge; win, 8-7
Going into the bottom of the third inning of Monday's Section 1 A finale with section champion Carmichaels, California baseball coach Don Hartman was not a happy camper.
He watched as his defense botched a routine pop fly out beyond shortstop with two outs that Carmichaels turned into four runs and a 5-0 lead.
When the Trojans came off the field, Hartman lit into them with a tongue-lashing about fundamentals and doing what they are supposed to do.
Then he challenged them.
And the Trojans responded.
The hosts scored four runs in the bottom of the third and eventually came away with an 8-7 win.
The game didn't mean a lot in the section race, but don't tell Hartman that the game was meaningless to the second-place Trojans (14-4, 8-2).
“We built this program on hard work, determination and pride in what we do, how we play the game,” he said. “And I was upset after we missed that routine play that cost us four runs. I challenged my team and they buckled down and did the job. They played the way California baseball is supposed to be played.”
In the bottom of the third, Michael Luketich hit a bases-loaded two-run single that turned into a three runs when the Mikes committed an error on the play.
Aaron Previsky then slapped a single that made it 5-4.
Cal scored three times in the fifth as Jake Columbus tied the game with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt, Previsky hit another RBI single and Louden Conte stroked a single on a 3-2 pitch to drive in the third run to make it 7-5.
Cal made it 8-5 in the sixth on a double by Josh Luko and a single by Luketich, his third hit of the day.
The Trojans needed that extra run as the Mikes (12-3, 9-1) scored twice in the seventh and had the tying run on second when winning pitcher Brian Fisher recorded the last out.
“This is the kind of baseball we need to play if we want to do well in the playoffs,” said Hartman. “I'm pretty proud of my kids. They fought back and would not be denied. That's what you have to do to be successful. I'm hoping they learned something today.”
Joining Luketich with three hits for California was Luko while Previsky had two hits.
The Mikes got two singles and a double from Mike Blasinsky.
California travels to Thomas Jefferson for a non-section game Wednesday.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.